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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Live numb, blame the tool,      

deny personal responsibility

During this holiday season, as hyperactive commerce envelops vicarious horror, let’s stop to consider that horror. Is it new? Can we stop violence by regulating citizens’ access to tools that can be misused to cause horror? Why is there so much violence now?

It's been happening for long time

About the time of Christ’s birth a local ruler named Herod ordered all male children under the age of two executed as potential threats to his power; about 200 infants were butchered.

The tools used were edged, like swords, and the sword wielders were soldiers who were probably sane and sober. The ruler, well, his sanity is hard to analyze from 2000 years later.

At the time, life in the farming villages and small towns was difficult and stressful. Growing up involved learning how to deal with an adult world.

Our solutions worsen the problem

Today, some folks in power are trying to “social engineer” society into a non- stressful exercise, and growing up into a stress- and challenge-free time. They insist that children shouldn't compete because some won’t win and they’ll feel bad. They think children shouldn't be held responsible for doing homework or participating in class because it might stress them.

As part of our social engineering, we have schools that vigorously prosecute “bullying” although that’s long been a common discomfort in adolescence in the U. S. and overseas. Who’s and whys of school bullying vary, and change over time. We used to teach children how to deal with bullies – no more.

Stress will appear – and maybe bullying -- when the adolescents graduate to a job. They will have to learn to deal with stress and bullying on the job. Some don’t; they “go postal.”

In spite of, or because of, the social engineering, violence against children continues.

Stress? Numb it away!

To help relieve the stress of living, we've developed medicines that affect minds – if we can’t be happy, we can at least be numb to distress. If we feel tired, we have pills to pick us up. If the problem is an active and curious six-year-old boy we have pills to slow him down.

Soldiers in combat are stoned on prescribed drugs. A recent article showed a printout of medications taken by one deployed soldier, which included 17 that affected mood and mind. A drug banned from many ERs as too dangerous (may cause suicide and violence) is often prescribed to assist soldiers’ sleeping. Mood-altering drugs are very commonly prescribed to both soldiers and civilians.

The perpetrator of the Newtown, Conn. atrocity had been treated for mental or emotional illness; it’s not yet clear what medicines he was taking or when he had last taken them.

We've found two interventions that don't work

So, we have children who are not allowed to fail and who are given awards for being present. They learn that if they don’t feel good it’s someone else’s fault and maybe they should take a pill or file a lawsuit. Some learn that it’s so bad to feel inferior that it’s OK to kill another youth to get his stylish sneakers—the cause of that crime was attributed (in the popular press) to being poor and disadvantaged, not to lack of respect and self-discipline – and not to poor parenting.

Mood altering medicines haven’t helped, they've exacerbated violence.

Opportunity for power

Finally, we have a president who knows that “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” He’s busy pointing fingers at the tools used to commit the Newtown atrocity so the horror will help him advance one of his favorite causes, disarming U.S. citizens.

We can imagine him arguing against private possession of swords and knives 2000 years ago to prevent the slaughter of innocents, ignoring Herod’s paranoia. Today, he’s blaming guns. Not society. Not efforts to social engineer stress out of life, even to the point of living – and entering combat – stoned. Not inadequate treatment of mental illness which isn't addressed in his so called “Affordable Care Act.”

Nope. He’s against guns, and he’s going to use all of the power of his office to fight against them.

Increasing what doesn't work is easier 

If he succeeds will atrocities like Newtown be averted? Nope. Very strong gun control in the former Soviet Union and China didn't and still doesn't help prevent child hostage taking, murder, and robbery. Nor does the near absence of legal guns in Great Britain help much – the joke we hear from British police officers is, “the constable’s office, the Muslims, and the criminals have guns. We have to ask the constable if we need one, while the other guys carry theirs.”

Switzerland and Israel require their citizens to have a great deal of familiarity with guns, and they have low crime rates. (However, Israel has high incidence of terrorist activities, probably due to their being surrounded by enemies.) Nearly every city and county in the U.S. that has encouraged gun ownership and possession has seen violent crime drop markedly upon adoption of the “Shall Issue” laws. (These laws say that a permit for concealed weapons carry shall be issued if the applicant is not a criminal or mentally ill -- it's not up to the whim of the sheriff.)

Outlaw what works

These and many other statistics support guns as tools to reduce violent crime. Universal firearms training marks countries with low crime and controlled terror. (Terrorists and criminals who face an armed populace can — and do -- resort to explosives and poisons. They are inconvenienced and deterred, not stopped by personally-owned firearms.) Mood altering medicines increase violence and suicide as well as numbing away stress. But. . .

Propaganda again

It’s easier to take advantage of the crisis than it is to address the causes and prevention of violence. After all, if many of your constituents are stoned, and the great majority expects quick and easy solutions, facts and logic aren't important. Only the message, repeated from (seemingly) many sources, over and over matters.

This sounds like propaganda, used as Hitler advised. It worked then. It worked to some degree in Costa Mesa’s recent election. Maybe it’ll work now, nationally.

Blame the tool, drug the people, and grow your power. Hitler would be proud. So would Herod; he, too, knew how to sacrifice children to extend his power.

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